Monday, 30 April 2007

An Taisce appeals Tara motorway order

An Taisce appeals Tara motorway order
An Taisce has brought an appeal to the Supreme Court against the High Court's refusal to permit it to challenge the legality of the development of the M3 Clonee to Kells motorway near the Hill of Tara, Co Meath.
The High Court refused leave earlier this month to bring the action, which could have major implications not just for the M3 but other proposed road schemes.
John Rogers SC, for An Taisce, yesterday told the Chief Justice, Mr Justice John Murray, that an appeal was being brought against that refusal. He would also be seeking an early hearing of that appeal, which he estimated would take two hours.
The Chief Justice said the Supreme Court would fix a date for hearing at a later stage and suggested that counsel consider whether submissions should be filed.
In its action, An Taisce contends the National Roads Authority unlawfully approved on March 13th last its own tolling scheme for the motorway and now proposed to enter into a public-private partnership to that effect without having met necessary statutory requirements under the Roads Act 1993.
The proposed tolling scheme was prepared despite the express opposition of Meath County Council which must, under law, be consulted about any such
plan, it also claims. In promoting and pursuing the construction of the M3 motorway scheme in the absence of the necessary approved plan, the Minister for Transport, it is contended, has also acted unlawfully, unreasonably and in excess of his powers.
If An Taisce succeeds in its Supreme Court appeal and gets leave to bring the challenge, it will have significant implications, not just for the M3 but for other road schemes as it is claimed the NRA has breached its statutory duty under section 18 of the Roads Act to prepare and adopt, once every five years, a draft plan for the construction and maintenance of national roads.
Among the reliefs sought in the proposed action is an order that the NRA cannot take any steps for the implementation of a tolling scheme intended to finance the M3 until the draft plan has been prepared and adopted under section 18.
In an affidavit, Ian Lumley, national heritage officer with An Taisce, said that of all the developments currently contemplated, the M3 Clonee to Kells motorway was "probably the most significant in terms of its likely adverse effects".
The motorway was likely to have a significant adverse impact on a great range of different environmental issues, in particular the national monument on the Hill of Tara and the Tara/Skryne valley, which is of international and worldwide importance, the River Boyne, expressly designated as being of European importance, and a series of landscapes classified as high amenity.
© 2007 The Irish Times

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